Student Guidelines for Peer Review: Intermediate Composition

Author: 
Janelle Schwartz, English Department, UW-Madison
Description: 
Especially in introductory and intermediate courses, students do more effective peer reviews when instructors give them explicit guidelines for what to focus on when they read and comment on a draft.  One of the key goals here is to help students internalize these expectations for their own papers.

This is to give you an idea of the type of things you should be looking for and accomplishing in both your own paper and that of your peer(s). Use what follows as a kind of checklist for determining what is working effectively in a paper and what is not.

 

Introduction

o    Has the writer (either yourself or your classmate) clearly expressed the question (major claim, thesis) that he/she has selected to analyze? What is that question?

 

o    Is there any unnecessary information included in the introduction?

 

o    Having read the entire essay, suggest an alternate way to begin the essay.

 

o    Having read the entire essay, does the introduction fit the paper?

 

Body

o    What are the main points that are being made in each paragraph? Briefly outline the point of each paragraph and sketch the evidence given in support for each.

 

o    How is the evidence linked to the main point of the paragraph? And to the main point of the essay?

 

o    Is there any unnecessary information throughout the body of the paper, such as plot summary, excessive quotation, or unsupported claims?

 

Conclusion

o    Has the writer restated (not simply repeated) the major claim of the paper in light of its discussion throughout the paper? In other words, what should the reader have learned by the end of the argument?

 

o    What is your understanding of the initial question after reading the paper? Has this understanding been adequately expressed? And does it open up the major claim to the question of its implications? (Has this major claim ultimately been placed into a broader perspective or context?)

 

o    Suggest an alternate ending to the argument.

 

General/Misc

o    Suggest an alternate title. Does it express ‘in a nutshell’ the essay’s theme? Has it followed the proper “title: subtitle” format? [Note: This assumes the paper already has a title—thus, every paper must have a title!]

 

o    What confuses you about the draft? (For example, a certain word choice, the topic and/or its presentation, the explanation of something in particular.)

 

o    Does the flow of the essay break down at any point? In other words, does the essay become hard to read or lose its coherence? Where? And how might you fix it?

 

o    Does the essay remain within the chosen text(s)? If there are any generalizations, speculations, clichés, idiomatic expressions, or colloquialisms, underline them so that you can point them out to your peer(s).

 

o    What has the writer done well in his/her essay? Provide positive comments about the strength(s) of the essay.